Best of Preps — Winter 2018

The top high school athletes from Flathead County

By BY ANDY VIANO | PHOTOS BY GREG LINDSTROM AND JUSTIN FRANZ
Bigfork senior Jaime Berg, on March 13, 2018. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

Jaime Berg

School: Bigfork
Class: Senior
Position: Post

The centerpiece and a captain of one of the best Bigfork teams in years, Jaime averaged 16.8 points and 8.5 rebounds per game en route to earning all-state honors as a senior. She notched 10 double-doubles and posted a 30-point game, but her biggest highlights came at the end of the year. The Montana Tech commit starred at the divisional tournament, powering the 21-3 Valkyries to the Western B divisional title, and Bigfork won a game at the Class B state tourney for the first time in her four varsity seasons. “It’s the best (season) record I’ve ever had,” she said. “And to win a game at state was super cool.”

James Bouda

School: Flathead
Class: Senior
Individual events at state meet: 50-yard freestyle, 100-yard breaststroke

Before heading off to swim at the University of Wyoming, James had some lofty, record-breaking goals for himself at the all-class state swim meet. He won a pair of state titles — in the 50-yard freestyle and 100 breaststroke — and set the state record in the 50 free in 20.48 seconds only to narrowly miss another record in the breaststroke, coming up a tenth of a second short. What impressed James most, however, was the performance of an outnumbered Flathead team that took home a stunning third-place trophy. “It felt awesome because we only had five people in the finals and all the other teams were like 20-plus,” he said.

Annisa Brown

School: Whitefish
Class: Senior
Position: Guard

Annisa’s grit and relentless positivity should serve her well down the road, especially if she follows her current path and ends up working in law enforcement after attending Flathead Valley Community College this fall. A four-year varsity player for the Bulldogs, Annisa persevered through an on-court career that did not include many wins but did create some powerful bonds with her teammates. Her senior year’s biggest highlight was a memorable victory against Polson in the first conference game of the season. “The mindset you had to have is to that that we’re going to do good,” she said. “That’s how I thought throughout the entire year.”

Dani Douglas

School: Columbia Falls
Class: Senior
Position: Guard

The only returning starter from a team that won the Class A state championship in 2017, Dani took over as the Wildkats’ on-court leader as a senior and did not disappoint, scoring her 1,000th career point in her final high school game and garnering all-state recognition for the second straight year. At the Class A state tournament, the Wildkats bounced back from a first-round loss to win three straight and finish in third place, the program’s fifth straight placement at the tourney. “A lot of people just thought we were not going to be good this year, even make it to state, so it was really good to prove them all wrong,” she said.

Sam Elliott

School: Flathead
Class: Senior
Position: Post

When Sam was first learning the game of basketball, watching the sport with his dad, the youngster was endlessly frustrated with unguarded post players unable to shoot or dribble to take advantage. So when Sam grew into his 6-foot-6 frame in high school, there was no chance he was going to be a one-dimensional, back-to-the-basket player. The result is a two-time all-state product who shot better than 30 percent from 3-point range as a senior in addition to averaging more than nine rebounds and 12 points per game. “I consider myself to be a threat from anywhere on the court, even though I’m a big man,” he said.

Payton Hume
Michael Lee
Tucker Nadeau

School: Flathead
Class: Seniors
Weight classes: Hume (170 lbs.), Lee (heavyweight), Nadeau (182 lbs.)

Flathead won a second straight state title behind a remarkable 15 state placers, but it was a trio of first-time individual champions that rose above the rest. Nadeau capped an undefeated season with his title, Hume got over the hump after finishing second a year ago, and Lee out-dueled his teammate and best friend to claim his championship. A tight-knit senior class, led by the three champions, will graduate having restored Flathead as the state’s preeminent wrestling program. “It’s an amazing group,” Nadeau said. “Everyone treats each other as family,” said Lee. “(Wrestling) just builds a bond that nothing else I’ve experienced can,” Hume added.

Matthew Morrison

School: Columbia Falls
Class: Senior
Position: Post

Just 5-foot-5 in junior high, Matthew sprouted into a rebounding machine in three varsity seasons for the Wildcats. Now 6-foot-6, he nearly averaged a double-double as a senior and helped rebuilding Columbia Falls post four Northwest A conference wins. A pitcher for the Glacier Twins, Matthew’s attention has turned to the diamond for the spring, but not without an appreciation for a high school hoops career that ended with a pair of losses at the conference tournament. “It was still fun. It’s good playing with the guys I’ve been playing with my whole life,” he said. “It was nice to end up playing it out with them.”

A.J. Popp

School: Glacier
Class: Junior
Individual events at state meet: 100-yard freestyle, 200-yard freestyle

A phenom in the pool from an early age, A.J. won her first high school state championship this winter in the 200-yard freestyle, dusting the field by nearly five seconds. She added a second place in the 100 free, just ahead of her close friend and teammate Caroline Dye, and helped the Wolfpack to a fourth-place finish as a team. A.J.’s summer will once again be spent in the water, where she will be competing in national meets and aiming to impress as colleges swoop in to recruit her. “I definitely want to swim in college,” she said. “It’s just kind of deciding exactly where.”

Brec Rademacher

School: Glacier
Class: Senior
Position: Guard

As dangerous a 3-point marksman as there is in the state, Brec set Glacier’s single-game school record with seven triples in a 25-point outburst against conference champion Missoula Sentinel in late February and canned 37 3-pointers in only 15 regular season games. The senior was a key piece of the Wolfpack’s state championship team last year and helped Glacier return to the state tournament this year with a heart-stopping triple-overtime win against Flathead in divisionals. “My whole life I’ve been out shooting wherever I could,” he said. “I’ve always put up a ton of shots and I just got the feel.”

Beau Santistevan

School: Bigfork
Class: Senior
Position: Post

The party still hasn’t stopped in Bigfork, where Vikings players have turned into mini-celebrities on the heels of an undefeated season and Class B state championship. Beau, the Vikings’ senior big man and leading scorer and rebounder, has racked up oodles of honors since the season ended, including his second straight all-state nod. He’s hoping to continue his career in college, and his prospects were no doubt boosted by a spectacular state tournament that culminated with an 18-point, nine-rebound effort in the title game. “All of the games I played at state I just felt like I was powered up,” he said.

Anna Schrade

School: Glacier
Class: Senior
Position: Guard

Anna provided one of the signature moments of this basketball season, flipping in a buzzer-beating scoop-shot to beat conference champion Missoula Sentinel on the road in late February, but it was the senior’s time at the state tournament she’ll treasure most. The Wolfpack upset Eastern AA champion Billings West in the first round at state this year, a fitting coda to her three years as a starter on the hardwood. A three-sport star, Anna was a second team all-state volleyball selection in the fall. “I would say one of my greatest strengths is my mental game,” she said. “I don’t let a lot of things get into my head.”

Clara Vandenbosch

School: Flathead
Class: Senior
Position: Guard

One of the top rugby players in town, Clara’s toughness spilled onto the basketball court where she led the Bravettes in scoring at more than 11 points per game. Clara was instrumental in Flathead’s 29-25 crosstown win over Glacier on Feb. 1, pouring in a game-high 13 points in one of the Bravettes’ signature wins of the season. This spring on the pitch, Clara and her teammates on the Flathead Valley Black and Blue will be looking to defend their 2017 state championship. “I just have a lot of gratitude when it comes to playing sports,” she said. “And knowing that I’ve worked really hard to get where I am.”

Lee Walburn

School: Whitefish
Class: Junior
Position: Wing

A varsity player since his freshman year, Lee sees good things on the horizon for a young Whitefish team that repeatedly found itself on the wrong end of close games this season. The lanky junior led the Bulldogs in scoring at 16 points per regular season game and is an equally dangerous shooter and driver. Lee is also a standout leaper and this spring will look to improve on a sixth-place finish in the long jump at the state meet last season. “We had those moments of ups, which was really good, and we’re still pretty young,” he said. “It was just a really good year for experience.”

Ben Windauer

School: Columbia Falls
Class: Senior
Weight class: 170 lbs.

It’s been quite the senior year for Ben, a Montana Tech football commit who led Columbia Falls to a state title on the gridiron before ending his wrestling career with a first-round pin in the state championship match. He pinned every opponent at the state tournament as part of a 48-win season, improving on a runner-up effort at 145 pounds in 2017. Since winning the title, Ben’s not been shy about reliving the moment over and over again. “I’ve watched the video probably over 10 times now,” he said. “The ref hit the mat and it was crazy, almost unimaginable that I won. It was amazing.


More Stars

Boys Basketball

Tyler Johnson, Flathead, Senior, Class AA All-State

Eric Seaman, Flathead, Senior, Western AA Second Team

Caden Harkins, Glacier, Senior, Western AA Honorable Mention

Kody Jarvis, Glacier, Senior, Western AA Honorable Mention

Drew Engellant, Glacier, Sophomore, Western AA Honorable Mention

Quintin Schriver, Columbia Falls, Senior, Northwest A Honorable Mention

Ryan Kemm, Whitefish, Junior, Northwest A Honorable Mention

Anders Epperly, Bigfork, Junior, Class B All-State

Logan Gilliard, Bigfork, Junior, Class B All-State

Clayton Reichenbach, Bigfork, Junior, District 7B Second Team

Colton Reichenbach, Bigfork, Junior, District 7B Second Team

Chase Chappuis, Bigfork, Senior, District 7B Second Team

 

Girls Basketball

Kali Gulick, Glacier, Junior, Western AA Second Team

Mary Heaton, Flathead, Senior, Western AA Honorable Mention

Cadie Williams, Glacier, Senior, Western AA Honorable Mention

Hannah Gedlaman, Columbia Falls, Senior, Class A All-State

Ryley Kehr, Columbia Falls, Junior, Northwest A Second Team

Trista Cowan, Columbia Falls, Junior, Northwest A Honorable Mention

Shae Anderson, Bigfork, Senior, Class B All-State

Rakiah Grende, Bigfork, Junior, District 7B First Team

Abby Ellison, Bigfork, Senior, District 7B Second Team

Ellie Berreth, Bigfork, Senior, District 7B Second Team

 

Wrestling    Class AA

Tilynne Vasquez, Flathead, Sophomore, 4th place 103 lbs.

Brendan Barnes, Flathead, Sophomore, 5th place 103 lbs.

Bryce Schaffer, Flathead, Senior, 4th place 113 lbs.

Dominic Battello Flathead, Junior, 5th place 120 lbs.

Jaden MacNeil, Flathead, Junior, 2nd place 132 lbs.

A.J. Ekanger, Flathead, Sophomore, 6th place 132 lbs.

Tanner Russell, Flathead, Sophomore, 4th place 145 lbs.

Kenyon Fretwell, Flathead, Senior, 3rd place 152 lbs.

Garrett Rieke, Flathead, Sophomore, 5th place 160 lbs.

Colby Martin, Flathead, Junior, 5th place 170 lbs.

Hunter Wellcome, Flathead, Senior, 5th place 205 lbs.

Alex Paull, Flathead, Senior, 2nd place 285 lbs.

 

Wrestling    Class A

Brandon Thomas, Columbia Falls, Senior, 6th place 132 lbs.

Nathan Hader, Columbia Falls, Senior, 6th place 145 lbs.

Jakob Freeman, Columbia Falls, Junior, 6th place 205 lbs.

Taylor Gladeau, Columbia Falls, Sophomore, 3rd place 285 lbs.

Kyler Koski, Columbia Falls, Senior, 5th place 285 lbs.

 

Boys Swimming

Jace Reed, Flathead, Junior, 3rd place 100 butterfly / 3rd place 100 backstroke / 4th place 200 medley relay / 6th place 400 freestyle relay

Gus DeSouza, Flathead, Sophomore, 4th place 200 medley relay / 3rd place 200 freestyle relay / 6th place 400 freestyle relay

Makena Tanko, Flathead, Senior, 4th place 200 medley relay / 3rd place 200 freestyle relay / 6th place 400 freestyle relay

Ethan Brosten, Flathead, Freshman, 3rd place 200 freestyle relay / 6th place 400 freestyle relay

Alex Bertrand, Glacier, Sophomore, 6th place 200 individual medley

Preston Ring, Whitefish, Sophomore, 5th place 200 freestyle / 4th place 100 breaststroke

 

Girls Swimming

Caroline Dye, Glacier, Sophomore, 3rd place 100 freestyle / 2nd place 200 freestyle relay / 3rd place 400 freestyle relay

Bailey Rhodes, Glacier, Senior, 2nd place 200 freestyle relay / 3rd place 400 freestyle relay

Lauren Harmon, Glacier, Senior, 2nd place 200 freestyle relay

Mary Burnham, Glacier, Freshman, 3rd place 400 freestyle relay

Annie Sullivan, Whitefish, Junior, 5th place 500 freestyle

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